Woodturning is a form of woodworking often used to create intricate objects using a lathe as the main tool. Despite the name “woodturning”, there are other alternative materials that can be used with a lathe. Firstly, tropical nuts are commonly used in woodworking. Large nuts like Butternut can be turned on the lathe with ease. These materials are often known as “vegetable ivory” because they provide a good legal substitute to an illegal material.
Another similar material that works well when woodturning is animal bone, also known as “bovine ivory.” As a material, animal bone has great potential. It could be used to create high quality furniture, or fountain pens. It is worth noting that the dust from bone is very fine and can be toxic, so be sure to use adequate protection. Animal bones also vary widely depending on the species, so be sure to find out about the specific animal whose bones are being used.
As for synthetic materials, one idea is to use Corian. This is a synthetic material made from a mixture of acrylic and an aluminium alloy. It is similar in appearance to granite, and is often used for worktops. Corian is a good material because scraps often get thrown away, meaning you can get your hands on it for free. One good thing about Corian to note when turning is that it doesn’t have a grain, meaning you can turn it in any direction. It’s a good material for making small objects like pens, boxes and containers.
The final material to use is acrylic. Also known as Perspex, this material has a huge range of applications and can be obtained very easily. It is often used as a shatter resistant alternative to glass, and can be opaque, translucent or transparent. Acrylic is often used for sculpting and jewellery, and is an excellent material with which to turn pens.